July 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

L.A. to have biggest COVID reopening yet: What you can do

Los Angeles County and San Francisco County have reached a threshold to enter California’s most lenient yellow COVID-19 tier this week, setting the stage for the economy to be unshackled to the widest extent currently possible.

It will be L.A. County’s first time in the yellow tier, and San Francisco County‘s second time — after previously making it there last fall.

In general, reaching this level allows capacity to expand at gyms, movie theaters, amusement parks, sports venues, museums and venues hosting receptions and conferences. Bars can also reopen indoors without needing to serve meals, and saunas and steam rooms can also reopen.

L.A. County plans to issue a health order permitting wider reopenings Wednesday that will go into effect Thursday. San Francisco County also plans to relax business restriction orders Thursday.

Health officials said the progress vindicates the months-long collective efforts of residents to get vaccinated, mask up and stay socially distanced.

“These numbers prove that the hard work we’re doing as a community to protect ourselves and each other from this infection is allowing us to return to the many activities we cherish. Thanks to everyone for all the masking, distancing, hand washing and vaccinating,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

L.A. County is the first in Southern California to reach the state’s yellow tier since the color-coded reopening system was established last summer.

Supervisor Hilda Solis called the greater reopening “exciting” but also urged people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated to be cautious. It takes two weeks after a person’s final vaccine dose for someone to be considered fully vaccinated.

Only 47% of L.A. County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine; health experts have said it would be helpful to get overall vaccination rates above 80% or higher.

“We still have a lot more work to do,” Solis said. And with Cinco de Mayo arriving Wednesday, Solis urged people to wear masks in ways consistent with current orders; everyone in indoor settings are asked to wear masks unless everyone there is vaccinated or unvaccinated members of only one household are present.

Here’s more information on what’s allowed in the yellow tier. However, counties can still keep more restrictive rules in place, if they so choose:

What’s allowed in the yellow tier, according to the state

Amusement parks and fairs can expand attendance to 35% of capacity, up from 25% in the orange tier. The indoor attendance limit remains 25%, and visitors must either be a California resident or fully vaccinated.

Restaurants are no longer capped at 200 people, as is required in the orange tier, but must still operate at no more than 50% capacity. As is the case in the orange tier, that limit can increase to 75% if all guests show proof of full vaccination or of a recent negative coronavirus test.

Movie theaters can expand up to 50% of capacity — up from the previous cap of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. If all guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative test, the limit can increase to 75%, up from 37.5% from the orange tier.

Shopping malls’ common areas can reopen with modifications.

Bars that don’t serve food can reopen indoors, with a maximum capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The limit can increase to 37.5% if all guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative test. In the orange tier, bars where no meals are provided can only open outdoors.

Conferences, receptions and meetings can accommodate up to 200 people outdoors, or up to 400 people if everyone tests negative or shows proof of full vaccination. Indoor conferences, receptions and meetings can be held only if all guests show proof of negative test or show proof of full vaccination, and are limited to a maximum of 200 people. Conferences, meetings and receptions need to have assigned seating, and there’s to be no intermingling of private events.

By contrast, in the orange tier, attendance at conferences, receptions and meetings is limited to a maximum of 100 people outdoors, or up to 300 people if everyone tests negative or shows proof of full vaccination. In the orange tier, indoor conferences, receptions and meetings are allowed, for up to 150 people, only if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries can expand to 50% of capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, the limit was 25% or up to 100 people. Attendance can increase to 75% of capacity if all guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative test, up from 37.5% in the orange tier.

Gyms and card rooms can expand indoor capacity to 50%, up from 25%. If all guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative test, the limit can increase to 75%, up from 37.5%.

Yoga and dance studios and satellite wagering sites can open indoors at 50% capacity, up from 25%.

Saunas and steam rooms can reopen, up to a maximum of 50% capacity. In the orange tier, saunas and steam rooms were still ordered shut.

Indoor family entertainment centers, including arcades, ice-skating rinks, playgrounds, bowling alleys, escape rooms, bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag arenas, can expand to 50% of capacity, up from 25%. If all guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative test, the limit can increase to 75%, up from 50% in the orange tier. Food and beverage service can occur only in designated areas.

Museums, zoos and aquariums must retain some modifications indoors but are no longer subject to capacity caps.

Informal social gatherings can be expanded to 100 people outdoors, up from 50 people. Indoor gatherings continue to be strongly discouraged, but are allowed at up to 50% of a venue’s capacity or up to 50 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, outdoor attendance is limited to 50 people; with indoor events capped at up to 25% of capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer.

Outdoor seated live events, such as baseball games, can expand to 67% of capacity in the yellow tier, up from 33% in the orange tier. Suites remain capped at 25% capacity, but if everyone is fully vaccinated, the suites can operate at full capacity. Guests must live in California or be fully vaccinated.

People in sections of the venue that are marked as those for fully vaccinated people do not need to be physically distanced and can be seated at full capacity, but must wear face coverings. People are considered fully vaccinated if it’s been two or more weeks since receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose, or two or more weeks since receiving their Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Children age 2 or older not eligible to be vaccinated may sit with their parent or sponsor in the fully vaccinated-only section only if they are tested. Verification of vaccination can include the vaccination card; a photo of the vaccination card; a photo of the vaccine card stored on a phone; or documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider.

People in sections of the venue that are marked for those who have received only a negative test must have had their test done within 72 hours before the event start time if using a PCR test; antigen tests are allowed but must be conducted within 24 hours of the start of the event. Acceptable documents include a printed document or an email or text message displayed on a phone from the lab or test provider.

Indoor seated live events and performances in large-capacity venues — with capacity for more than 1,500 guests — can reach 10% of capacity or 2,000 guests, whichever is fewer, but if everyone has a negative test or has proof of full vaccination, the limit can increase to 50%, up from 35% in the orange tier.

In smaller venues of up to 1,500 guests, indoor live venues are capped at 25% of capacity or 300 people in the yellow tier, whichever is fewer, or up to 50% if all guests are tested or can show proof of full vaccination. In the orange tier, smaller venues are capped at 15% of capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer, or up to 35% of capacity if all guests are tested or can show proof of vaccination.

In all such indoor venues, only California residents or those who are fully vaccinated are permitted; drinking and eating are allowed only in designated areas in situations where everyone either has tested negative or has proof of full vaccination; and suites can hold no more than 25% of capacity, with a maximum of members of three households in attendance.

Churches are strongly recommended to keep attendance at 50% of capacity, the same as the orange tier.

California is aiming to scrap the tier framework and fully reopen its economy June 15, as long as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine is stable and hospitalization numbers stay low.

However, some safety rules will remain in place. For instance, large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, are expected to be allowed to resume, but with testing or vaccination verification requirements, the governor’s office has said.